Friday, February 13, 2009

Borrowed Thoughts

No descendant of Adam is ever original in thought.  Only God can do that.  We only rebound off of him or each other and only get it right to the extent to which our own thoughts conform to His, or else go wildly off in the wrong direction to the extent to which we don't conform to His thoughts.  All this to say that I find Douglas Wilson quite a stimulator of my thoughts.  

Lately Douglas has been doing a review of the latest book of N.T. Wright.  I wish I could tell you which book that is, but Douglas failed to mention the title even though he is providing chapters and pages as references for some of his comments.

I can't make super intelligent or even an informed analysis of the book in question, or even of other things that N.T. Wright has written having never read anything of his.  What I can do is share some of the thoughts that have been spawned from reading Douglas Wilson's commentary on it.

First of all, I have to say that whatever the "Federal Vision" is, if Douglas Wilson is a fair representative of it, then I guess I am one of those as well.  That's because his exposition of the Gospel and how it works coincides with my understanding of it, and I got all that from a more or less raw reading and pondering of Scripture and the implications of it.  My understanding of justification through the righteousness of Christ being imputed to me is also one that I hold in common with Mr. Wilson.  Again, this comes from just reading Scripture and believing it.  Call it childish, or even child-like, but when God tells me that He made Christ to be sin for me so that I might be the righteousness of God in Him, I just believe it without a lot of mental gymnastics.  

Sometimes I think about how rudimentary my understanding of the Gospel is and how it has developed over time and I wonder, when in the world did I come to understand it and do I even understand it now?  I see how far I have come and have a dim perception that I have a very long way to go, but the road ahead is foggy and only the first few steps in front of me are clear before all that comes ahead becomes obscure.  Maybe this is what the Bible refers to as growing in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ, and seeing through a glass dimly.  I see clearly where I came from, and I have a vague idea of what lies ahead.  

All this is to say that one of the things that I do clearly see is how great a salvation I have.  It never used to move me the way it does now.  I cannot contemplate or comprehend the enormous, incalculable amounts of grace and love that have been thrown my way for no good reason other than it pleased God to do so.  Grace has finally made its way from an objective head knowledge that I knew to be true, down to a subjective heart knowledge that I feel to be true.  Not to say that one is superior to the other, but that both present a more full orbed and rounded understanding of the love of God through Christ for a poor and wretched sinner.

One of the counter-intuitive things that this knowledge has done is freed me from a lot of the fear of man that used to rule my life.  The opinions of others on how I conduct my life, raise my children, drive my car, etc., doesn't govern me as much.  I wish I could say I was completely free of it, but I suppose that this is something that will always form a small part of my psyche in this life.  Fear of the opinions of others made me into a poor Christian, wife, mother, etc.  I can see now that it is a form of idolatry because in reality the thing we fear most is the thing we worship most.  But where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty and those made free in Christ are free indeed.

Another thing I have discovered in all this is that those who use grace as an excuse for licentiousness or lawless behavior are really demonstrating that they don't understand grace.   When you get a really good idea of just how miserable you are outside of Christ and the realization of the "weight of glory" that is now yours in Christ, then you begin to understand what the Bible means about putting on a mask when you sin, and that you are a new creation and old things have passed away.  I may still be dealing with the residuals of the old nature while walking this planet, I may still do the things I shouldn't do while wanting to do the right thing, or neglecting the things I should pay attention to but don't, but the reality is that I was crucified with Christ and the life I now live, I live because of faith in the Son of God.  

My life is a journey and while I make detours and sometimes lose my way, it is God who is the author and finisher of my faith and He has promised to perfect and complete me.  To Him be all the glory.  

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